Alex Nall

What I do at the library: I am the Digital Learning Resident for the Hacking Hemingway grant. I'll be working closely with teachers and students at Oak Park Elementary School District 97's middle schools to collaborate on a variety of projects that relate to Ernest Hemingway's early years in Oak Park
My favorite "hidden library gem": To me, a great library is built on the services it offers to patrons, the congeniality of its staff, and the investment of the community. More than that, though, a great library is a place where you can get lost for a period of time. I'm not someone who can sit still for too long, otherwise I drift off in my mind (the answer as to why I got Bs and Cs in middle school is dawning on me now), and as a method of staving off this feeling of ennui, I get up from my desk and go walk around the library for 15 minutes. By simply taking a walk around the library's floors, I find myself in the company of friendly, resourceful staff members, unique and fascinating community events, and other fun new discoveries each time I set out from my desk. These little walks and the discoveries I make during them are my "hidden library gems."
Something I love about Oak Park: I love that I can commute here easily via the Green Line. I'm a Blue Line rider most of the time and used to spending time underground, in the dark, surrounded by the clank-clank-clanking of the train's wheels against the rails. It's nice to have a change of scenery and ride the train from an elevated position where you can take in a great view and actually see the world outside your window.
What I'm reading now: I find libraries to be like supermarkets: my selections are chosen to nourish me, while also adding some new flavors to my life. One has to have a good digestion of fruits and vegetables to grow hearty and strong (these would be represented by two Hemingway biographies I'm chipping away at). I have to grab the essential, everyday groceries such as bread, butter, and lunchmeat (these would be my graphic novels that I voraciously devour once or twice a day), some seasonal spices to add a bit of spice and intrigue (currently represented by a nonfiction book focused on the psychology of video games), and finally, some dessert, as an easy-to-digest, special treat for myself, currently the John Irving novel A Widow for One Year. Like grocery shopping, I always end up with more in my cart than I originally had on my list.
How I turn outward: I'm not very good with people's names and as a result find myself returning to the awkward "Do you go by Will or Bill?" conversation. To solve this problem, I carry a pad of paper with me at most times, and when I meet someone new I jot down their name, make a quick doodle of their face, and write three words to describe that person. For example, if I were meeting myself, I would jot down a goofy-looking mustachioed head thinking "Don't screw up. Don't screw up. Don't screw up."
(March 7, 2016)